Artist: The Mute Gods
Album Title: Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Label: InsideOut Music
Year Of Release: 2016
The Mute Gods is the moniker afforded to a new project that features a trio of well-known and revered names in the world of progressive rock music. The catalyst for the project is Nick Beggs, the talented bassist and vocalist that has been involved with the likes of Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett. However, for some of you, he may be more famous as being the main man behind the 80s pop group Kajagoogoo. Remember the songs ‘Too Shy’ and ‘Hang On Now? No me neither! But naturally, this rather eclectic resume has been a major factor in the way that The Mute Gods ultimately sounds. Joined by drummer Marco Minneman and Roger King, the trio have created a very commendable album of melodic and smooth progressive rock with a wealth of pop sensibilities.
When I describe the music as ‘smooth’, I think what I’m trying to convey is the fact that the eleven tracks that make up this debut album are all very much song-oriented, dominated by layers of lush keyboards that create a warm-sounding body of work, where, thanks to the melodiousness of the compositions and the synth work, the edges are softened just that little bit more than they otherwise would be. There are moments within the album that are pure prog rock indulgence full of interesting, occasionally slightly off-the-wall ideas. However, The Mute Gods it would appear are fundamentally about creating moods, atmospheres, textures and letting the big melodies shape and lead the songs.
For a few infuriating listens, I wracked my brain to identify who The Mute Gods reminded me of. And then, in a moment of rare clarity, it hit me. It’s not a carbon copy by any stretch of the imagination but there are several occasions where the similarities to John Mitchell’s 2015 opus under the Lonely Robot moniker rear up. It’s not necessarily a neo-prog album either but the use of the keys and the vocal tones do throw a few nods in that direction.
It has taken a few spins to feel like I’ve achieved something approaching clarity about ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ and from this vantage point, I have to say that The Mute Gods has me torn in two. On the one hand, there are some cracking tracks on offer, with some notable and addictive melodies at their heart. On the other, there are a few compositions that don’t have the same impact upon me. I cannot say that they are substandard compositions per se, because the standard across the album is very consistent. It is just that some of the songs hit the mark much more strongly for me personally.
Take the title track and ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ as two examples of where The Mute Gods are at their very best. They are both huge compositions that grab my attention from the very outset and still don’t seem willing to let go. In the case of the former, it is a sprawling and ambitious track that is built around a wonderful central melody and chorus. However, from humble and quiet beginnings, it also incorporates a driving rhythm and a lovely understated prog vibe. ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ on the other hand is a track that I shouldn’t like but I do. It is pure pop music, pop-rock at best, and yet the melodies are so beguiling and it has such a gentle charm, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with it.
Then there’s ‘Father Daughter’ which again begins with a quiet synth melody and subtle vocal delivery which is more pop than anything else. But again, it is such an elegant and beautiful song that it seeps into your psyche and grabs hold. It also features some female vocals as a lovely counterpoint to Beggs. The fact that the female vocalist is Beggs’ daughter, Lula, just makes the son that little bit more poignant and magical.
Speaking of guest musicians, there are a few more to name, including drummers Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Tears for Fears) and Gary O’Toole (Steve Hackett, China Crisis, Kylie Minogue), keyboardist Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson), and multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed (Magenta). It’s an eclectic mix, but based on the final product, it ultimately works.
Elsewhere, after a turbulent early relationship, I’ve also warmed to ‘Feed The Troll’, a darker, almost discordant track in places. The title offers one of the biggest clues to the lyrical content of ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’, which cleverly asks whether we live in a manufactured reality by exploring the role of the media, corporations and the government in our everyday lives.
If I’m honest though, I’m not such a huge fan of the likes of ‘Your Dark Ideas’ and ‘Swimming Horses’; there’s nothing really wrong with them , it’s just that they lack that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and a little of the magic that permeates other tracks on the album. Perhaps I’m being a little picky, but I have to be completely honest.
Ultimately, ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ is a very solid record and in certain places is a lot better than solid. When the stars align, the music can be almost magical, certainly highly addictive and majestic. But the magic doesn’t quite permeate all eleven songs which is a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, if pop-infused progressive rock at the gentler end of the spectrum sounds like your kind of music, it’s highly likely that The Mute Gods will deliver exactly what you’re looking for. Very good, almost great.
The Score Of Much Metal: 7.5
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar StormVanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld